Carrboro, 'Establishment' and Itch

This is Geoff Gilson.

A vacancy will soon be opening on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen. My mind turns to matters of political ‘establishment,’ the righteousness of challenge in a community, and what makes me itchy.

Now. Let’s get clear. There is a political ‘establishment’ in Carrboro. This is not necessarily a bad thing. So, why the itch?

Well, I get itchy at the appearance of an ‘establishment’ coronation.

I get itchy at any sense that one has to be a part of an homogenous ‘establishment’ to make progress.

I get itchy when members of an ‘establishment’ have attributed to them phrases like so-and-so “is a good fit.” Like there is only one fit. Like only one size fits all in our community.

I get itchy when an ‘establishment’ gives one the impression that it feels that its role in government should be more that of pressure group than consensus-building mediator for the whole community.

I don’t mind so much the idea that an ‘establishment’ within government challenges. We should, all of us, always be challenged to do better. Not least by our government.

But I get itchy when an ‘establishment’ within government itself is not regularly challenged. And I’m not sure government in Carrboro is challenged.

There is not any community, anywhere, which cannot find itself performing better as a consequence of regular, genuine and meaningful challenge.

The problem (and it is a self-defeating and self-perpetuating problem), the problem is that challenge won’t be forthcoming from the ranks of the ‘establishment.’

And yet, challenge won’t make any progress unless it is embraced by that ‘establishment,’ for no better reason and often with no qualification other than the fact that it is well-meaning and well-articulated challenge.

I wonder if Carrboro has not become more of a playground for imports to engage in social engineering experimentation, rather than an engaged, an engaging and an all-inclusive community.

I wonder if more of Carrboro does not speak out simply because it feels overwhelmed.

I wonder if it is not time for a conversation in our community about whether it is, as a whole, at ease with the direction of the community.

And whether, perhaps, that conversation might not more easily be instigated by an Alderman less wedded to the establishment and to its prevailing social engineering.

Well, that’s my take. And this is Geoff Gilson.

A Memorial to Life

This past weekend, a long-serving and hugely popular co-worker at Weaver Street Market Co-operative died suddenly. This on a weekend we had already set aside to honor those in our armed forces who gave their lives to protect us. It got me thinking about the way I truly appreciate life.

So. This morning, I consciously stopped and listened to the birds, as they cussed and swore and made sweet merry with each other. I inhaled the tangy scent of flowering bush, until its pollen stung the back of my nostrils. I felt each step of my feet on the hard concrete, like silent echoes in my psyche.

When later the sun shines, I will take all kinds of moment to feel its rays wash my soul, and its heat warm me to the deepest depths of my heart.

Today, when my neighbors annoy, I will smile. When a child screams, a cookie will magically appear in its hand. When work piles up, I will laugh it away.

I will not just see; I will feel. I will not merely experience; I will enjoy. I will test every one of my material senses, until I run out of ways to amuse both myself and all those around me.

I will do this not to taunt those who are no longer with us. But to honor them. To give testament to what they once enjoyed. Or may have missed. And to celebrate what is still available to me. For that is what they would want.

They are not trapped. And they would not wish that I act as if I am. They would want that I rejoice in every moment of my being alive. In their memory. And with their blessing.

Enter the Chorus Girls and a Dancing Bear

Chapel Hill Town Council’s Community Policing Advisory Committee (CPAC), at its meeting this past week, rejected the proposal of the Town Council to have a web-site gather facts about the Yates Garage incident last November.

The reason? There would be no way of proving the veracity of submissions.

The Town Council had already nixed CPAC’s request for money to fund an independent investigator. The reason? There would be no way of proving the veracity of submissions.

This pretty much brings to an end any chance there will be a full and independent review of what happened at Yates last November.

CPAC will now use what information has already been submitted to it to undertake a review of Policing policy.

Of course, I made the point at the meeting that you can’t really have a useful review of policy unless you know what you’re reviewing and why. Which you can’t know if you don’t know what went wrong. Which you can’t know if you don’t know the facts. Enter chorus girls and dancing bear …

Indeed, the impotence of CPAC, as currently constituted, only became more embarrassingly clear throughout the evening, as, time and again, CPAC members made clear that they did not have either the information or resources they need.

Copy of Police Policy Handbook? Nope. Contact with consultant hired by Chapel Hill Town Council to review Policing policy? Nope. Idea as to progress with said consultant? Nope.
It seems to me that CPAC, at the moment, is ‘advisory’ only in the sense that no-one advises them of anything.
And that is where I think this whole process should end up. One of the primary recommendations of CPAC should be that it, or another body, be given proper powers and resources, so that it, or the other body, can become a fully-functioning, properly-constituted entity, exercising recognizable and respected Citizen Oversight of Policing policy and strategy in our community.